CCHE Seminar Series: Preventing injection drug use: The state of the evidence, the promise, and the perils

Dan Werb

University of Toronto

Friday October 22, 2020, 10am-12pm, Zoom

Abstract: Injection drug use prevention is a longstanding public health goal that could meaningfully impact the opioid overdose epidemic. The Preventing Injection by Modifying Existing Responses (PRIMER) is a multi-cohort consortium study that seeks to identify the factors influencing injection initiation events. This presentation will review the state of the evidence on injection drug use initiation, describe the multiple pathways that lead people to start injecting drugs, and discuss the effectiveness of strategies to prevent drug injecting. It will also address the potential challenges to this approach, including the potential for greater stigmatization of injection drug use and the difficulties of reducing the harms of complex drug use trajectories.

Dan Werb is an addictions epidemiologist and the author of City of Omens: A Search for the Missing Women of the Borderlands, which was chosen by The New York Times Book Review as one of six true crime books to read in Summer 2019.  Booklist described City of Omens as, “a powerful addition to investigative coverage of the volatile borderland,” and Kirkus Reviews praised its “steely focus and smooth, vivid prose.” Dan’s work has also appeared in Salon, The Believer Magazine, Walrus Magazine, the Globe and Mail, and VICE, among others.

Dan is an assistant professor at the University of Toronto in the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation. He is also the Director of the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation, which conducts high-impact research and knowledge translation on improving the effectiveness of drug policy. Dan has published dozens of studies on issues related to addictions, drug policy, and HIV, with a focus on identifying the impact of policy and public health interventions on marginalized drug-using populations. Dan is the recipient of an Avenir Award from the National Institute of Drug Abuse and a Traiblazer Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He is also the winner of a Canadian National Magazine Award for his popular science writing on injection drug use.